Kenney-Stewart South Korea tour photo

Our Korean Experience, Entry #6

Director of Orchestras Wes Kenney and Music Professor Leslie Stewart are spending two weeks in South Korea where Maestro Kenney will conduct the Changwon Philharmonic. These entries document their latest experience!

Wednesday, June 20
A routine has been established of an American or Korean breakfast followed by a stop at Starbucks. At a Korean coffee house, if you want a quick coffee you need to order a Cafe Americano or a Latte and they will always ask if you want it hot or iced for the latter is very popular. For a drip or brewed coffee, you’ll need to wait at least five minutes as they do individual cups only and fresh.

Rehearsal begins at 10 a.m., goes to 12:30 p.m. We then seek out a lunch and following that is more exploration. The breakfasts are OK, but never really varied. The orange or tomato juice that comes with the American breakfast comes out of a carton as a convenience and the coffee is an Americano. There is one choice of white toast and if you order poached eggs, they will come on the top of it. There is an ingenious strawberry jam packet that squeezes the jam on your toast when you fold and bend it between your fingers.

Ju-eun LeeToday’s rehearsal is going through the entire Prokofiev symphony and we’re all tired by the end. Before leaving the hall, the two inquiring violinists from the previous day appear and tell Choi they would like to take us to lunch the next day between rehearsals. Today our midday meal is with Inho and Jeune Lee, the wonderful pianist who came to Fort Collins last November and performed with FCS. She is thrilled to see us and we enjoy some lively conversation over another traditional Korean lunch with even more taste experiences. Jeune is playing a concert of her own on Friday near the DMZ on the north side of the country. She is a faculty member at a nearby university as well. Jeune is particularly excited to be returning to Fort Collins to perform and adjudicate at the Keyboard Odyssiad at CSU in August.

After lunch, Inho guides Choi and us through Changwon University where he teaches conducting. The university is up on a hill, something that is common for most schools in Korea as the land is less expensive as explained by Choi. It is a nice campus and we stop at a student coffee house to grab some ice coffee and hear about Inho’s graduate conducting class which he has just started teaching this past fall. Changwon University has a small music department and we pass by the building where it is housed.

Wes Kenney and Leslie Stewart at the beach in South Korea After that we are off to one of Busan’s famous beaches along a strip of modern high-rises. The beach is clean and not very crowded for this time of year, but it is later in the afternoon about 4 p.m. by the time we arrive. Leslie and I take a walk to explore some of the sculptures found about 150 yards into the water. Swimming is limited and a boat or a jet-ski with patrolmen wave people out of the water where they are not supposed to be. No one seems to know why swimming is not allowed near us, but is fine about 500 yards to our left. It is here on this Busan beach that we see more foreigners. In Changwon, it is possible to go an entire day and see one or even none.

On returning, Choi takes me across the street south of the hotel to order dinner. Tonight is fried chicken, another food that the Koreans love. When we do sit down, we are given a cabbage slaw and a huge platter of chicken pieces and they are very tasty. We go to sleep early for Thursday will be a double rehearsal with our soloist.

~ Submitted by Wes Kenney, Director of Orchestras